Come & Have Some CAKE

June 13, 2012 · Print This Article

There is a really fantastic comics festival going down this weekend at Columbia College. Edie Fake and Neil Brideau have been putting it together for the last several months, as is evident from the ambitious vision and extensive programming. It’s like a world-class event with some phenomenal talent, old and new alike. A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to email back and forth with them about what the festival is about, what’s going down and how it relates to the pulse of the Chicago comic scene.
Caroline Picard: I can’t believe that CAKE is just around the corner — what made you all decide to put something like this together? Why this year? What’s it been like to organize?
Edie Fake: Yeah - CAKE is coming up so fast – it’s really exciting! Our initial impulse was that the alternative comics community in Chicago is so large and vibrant, it didn’t make sense tonot have a comics festival to celebrate it. We’d been to other amazing small press festivals of different flavors: TCAF in Toronto, Stumptown in Portland, SPX in Bethesda, BCGF in New York, APE in San Francisco… and it’s awesome to see these festivals harnessing the energy of a city’s scene and putting it in conversation with artists from all over.
This year is shaping up as an amazing year to debut a show like CAKE – there’s a ton of outstanding comics coming out right now, and I’m blown away by the talent we’ll be hosting. We’ve gotten to watch the Chicago Zine Fest (CZF) really take off in the past few years too, which is really encouraging.
Organizing for this year’s CAKE meant laying a lot of groundwork for the festival to continue – so it’s been a long and wild ride at times. We’ve got a tight core of five organizers now and an auxiliary committee of about 20 other folks and that sort of manpower really helps make everything more manageable. It actually makes putting it together pretty fun.
CP: In many ways I feel like your efforts in organizing community zine and comic-events is this incredible way of drawing out and publicizing vital energy that tends to lie below the surface. I feel like there is a ton of natural comic-energy at the moment, but I also feel like my awareness is tied to community opportunities for discussion and public engagement (like CAKE) that you and others are creating. Can you talk a little bit about what that’s been like? And maybe the tension (if there is one) between insular community-creativity and public accessibility? 

Neil Brideau: I think over the past few generations comics have really come into their own.  They’re being accepted more by the larger cultural world, and I think that helps cartoonists break out of their shells a little bit.  Most of CAKE’s exhibitors are in their late twenties and early thirties, and I feel like this generation is a lot more social than their immediate predecessors.  There’s this stereotype of the alternative comics artist toiling away in their studio not getting any financial or critical compensation for what they love, and feeling sorry for themselves.  But I see our peers really celebrating their creative process and the creative process of others. Not that there aren’t a lot of nights spent alone in a room inking pages of comics very few people will read.  I think Chicago too, in general is really welcoming of DIY and small-run creativity. Whether it’s the Night Market, or the CIMM Fest, or the Chicago Zine Fest, or Printers Ball, or house shows that DIYCHI is putting together, Chicago seems to be an incubator for lo-fi production and celebration of that production.  I think cartoonists in Chicago react to that energy, and are more social and community-oriented animals.

CP: Is there a way that you would characterize the comic-making energy and interest in Chicago at the moment? Do you have a sense for how that compares to other cities?
EF: Comics in Chicago have been a pretty big deal for a while – but I think we’re in a golden time right now. There’s a lot of overlapping community here. The Trubble Club is a great example of folks meeting up and drawing, sharing about what they’re making and influencing each other’s work. We’ve got micropresses like Sarah Becan’s Shortpants Press and printshops like Spudnik and try-anything stores like Quimby’s. Lyra Hill’s performative reading series Brain Frame is expanding what  comics are and how they’re presented. We’ve also seen totally off-the-chain events happen here recently like Hilary Chute’s star-studded Comics: Philosophy and Practice conference. This city values great comics like no place else- the scene here is really open, supportive and interactive. People here really up the ante for each other.
CP: I feel like we should talk about CAKE too, of course! What kind of things can people expect? Are there certain events that stand out as highlights for you?
EF: It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend! We’ve got over 200 artists exhibiting comics and a full slate of panels, screenings and conversations. We tried to set up events that we thought were a vital part of comics that we hadn’t seen happen before, like a panel on silkscreened comics and how the printing technique changes and expands the shape of comics. Ryan Sands, who’s an incredibly interesting and edgy editor is presenting a slideshow/mixtape of stuff he’s excited about and it just might be like seeing the future. The Eyeworks Animation Festival has curated a great program of work that highlights the overlap of comics and cartoons along with a q&a with Amy Lockhart, Marc Bell, Jim Trainor and Jo Dery. We’ve also got artist and comics historian Joe Tallarico leading a discussion on comics and fine art between two tremendous local art monsters, Paul Nudd and Karl Wirsum.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too – we’ve really been able to do a lot our first year out, including putting out an anthology CAKE Book with ITDN Group and an art show in conjunction with Morpho Gallery’s downtown Annex. It’s going to be a great time.
CP: Aren’t some people debuting comics too? What’s that like? (I’ve never been to something where comics — and multiple comics — debuted, but I imagine it’s some kind of custom? haha. I sound like such a goober.)
NB: Oh yeah! Debuts are a great tradition at alternative comics shows. Self- and small-press publishers often use comics fests as anchors to plan their publishing schedule. Making a comics fest like CAKE as the first time someone can get their hands on a comic helps create a buzz for their publication, the creators are excited to get it in people’s hands, and a lot of attendees seek out new work, knowing their the first folks to get their eyes on the comic!  So celebrating these brand new books are events within the larger event of CAKE and those celebrations add to the excitement that already exists within this convergence of tons of comics creators showing off their gems of self expression.
We have over 25 new titles debuting at CAKE, which we’ve been announcing on our website, one at a time. Being the one who posts them on the site, I’ve been bubbling with anticipation about some of the stuff coming out.  My list of comics I need to get my hands on is already really big.  A few that stand out to me are:
Suck It Up by Krystal DiFronzo, who enthusiastically performed a portion of the comic (which involves a character puking out her stomach to consume her lunch) at the most recent Brain Frame performance at Happy Dog
July Diary by Gabrielle Bell, published by Uncivilized Books.  Gabrielle is a great cartoonist who drew a comic everyday last July, which is now collected in this book.
The Adventure School for Ladies Comics Intensive, is putting together a book during their two-week session, which takes place right before CAKE, so their book will be hot off the presses!
Weather by Gabby Schulz -who also goes by the name Ken Dahl.  Secret Acres is publishing a comic featuring his character, Gordon Smalls, who is a great vehicle for Gabby’s social commentary on american consumerism.
For more information about CAKE and all its illustrious events, please visit their website.



The Bomber Remains Anonymous: Reenacting the Haymarket Riot

May 4, 2011 · Print This Article

**all photos by Edward Crouse

 

Until recently, my recollection of the Haymarket Riot is as follows:

Me, age 15 in the high school library looking over microfiche and taking notes on note cards as had been suggested by our US History teacher. As prickly as he was hilarious, he had a ruler he thwatted against the table and black board for emphasis. He made Republican jokes and I was very proud of the notes I took in his class. I used a variety of colors, more for aesthetic presence than any sort of code. He said once the only reason he became a teacher was because he always liked his teachers and  wanted to be similarly liked. He said once he’d started teaching he realized it was only the good students that liked you and there weren’t very many of them. I wanted to be a good student. Actually, I was passable.

To be fair, I only chose to write about the Haymarket Riot because “riot” was in the topic title. And, actually, I do not remember much about my research. I remember being interested in how people managed to organize under such exhausted, alienating conditions. I remember being surprised at the conditions under which they worked; for instance, that previous to the riot people worked more than 8hrs a day on the regular. But aside from that I only recall my preoccupation with not plagiarizing and using a variety of pens to make my note cards handsome. The rest of that paper is a blur.

The older I get the more I discover blind spots like these—details that slipped past the guards of my younger memory.

Today, May 4th 2011, marks the proper 125th anniversary of the Haymarket Riot. On Saturday, April 30th Paul Durica’s well-loved A Pocket Guide To Hell partnered with the Illinois Labor History Society, Version 11: Community, the Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Drinking & Writing Theater, and the Fulton District Association to stage a reenactment of those 1886 events. There were two groups. One, the one I was a part of, met at the Haymarket Brewery to get dressed up participate as police. The other, the anarchists and attendees, gathered at Randolph and Desplaines where a history was read and performed from a predetermined script. I can’t speak for what happened in the square before our arrival, so I’ll just give you a play-by-play of my experience.

My first tweet @10:59 AM: 125th anniversary of Haymarket Riot leads to Haymarket Reenactment 2day! 2pm at Randolph and Halsted. #pocketguidetohell

We had a Green Lantern squad. A merry band of buddies met me at the bar where we were given black coats, hats, and asked if we’d prefer to be wounded or have cap guns. I chose to be wounded and a small gold sticker was put on my shoulder. I was given a captain’s hat, as someone who had organized other volunteers. I admired a woman’s moustache, went to the bathroom and had second thoughts about whether or not I’d rather shoot a cap gun. Maybe I didn’t want to get wounded after all. I hadn’t pretended to do anything (publicly) in so long, the adolescent part of my brain bit my adult lip with consternation.

I decided to stay the course.

I decided I’d enact a stomach wound. I practiced, quietly, grasping my abdomen, imagining how I would fall down.

I very much liked my captain’s hat.

Second Tweet @2:22: Can finally call myself Captain Picard#haymarketreenactment

Coming back to the main room I couldn’t recognize my party because everyone wore the same black coats. The room was filling up rapidly. A waiter came around with a tray full of very small beers. I had one and found my people. Environmental Encroachment started to play by the door—a punk marching band cut from the same cloth as Mucca Pazza. Hearing them made me happy because EE had played in the first Green Lantern about five years ago during some crazy circus house-cat performance (don’t ask).


While I’ve never been one to fully embrace the mystical significance of  synchronicity, I have always taken some comfort in our ability to return to themes.

Similarly, I started thinking about that first paper I wrote. I started thinking about how much my understanding of historical sequence has improved. I did not have enough context when I wrote that paper as Sophomore year. Of course, you have to start somewhere but as a 15 year-old the 1700s seemed as far away as the  1800s. It was like I experienced a temporal parallax from my 1996 co-ordinate. I had no means with which to conceptually measure those temporal distances. Now, 15 years later, I have a deeper sense of consequence and a better understanding of how one thing leads to another. 20 years is a literal distance that I’ve already traveled. Or, for another example, I understand how modernism lead to post-modernism. Nevertheless, the understanding of my 30 old-self is still based on an intellectual apprehension. History is still not present to me. Even thinking through all of the recent revolutions and protests, from Cairo to Madison: there is a way where people are active in the present for deep ideals which may be incongruous with the  hierarchical structures in which they are embedded. I’m thinking also of England, where students have been protesting almost constantly about the need for free education. By participating in this reenactment on Randolph and Desplains, I had an opportunity to internalize my own history so that my understanding wasn’t simply intellectual, but became a muscle memory.

Someone stood up on a stool and gave us instructions. We were to march in a group around the block to a parking lot across the bridge.

Third Tweet @2:47: Those who are wounded fall and hurt. You know who you are.” #haymarketreenactment

In the parking lot more attempts were made to organize the police. We were instructed to form lines, 24 across and 8 deep. We were at least 2 more sets of 8 going back. And it was a great crowd. One of the things  I love about Chicago is the way a multifarious group of people working under the larger umbrella of cultural action (here I’d include DIY movie theaters, artspaces, publications, activist groups) can come together to participate in another group action. Certainly we’ve been seeing a lot of that lately, for instance with the MDWY Fair. The Haymarket Reenactment was no exception. Organizations like Quimby’s, The Dil Pickle Club, The Nightingale, Columbia College, featherproof, Quickies, Dance Dance Dance Party, Stop Smiling, MAKE Magazine and others all had their own squad of 6+ people. Further, within the confines that Durica prescribed people were also able to enjoy themselves. There was a built-in chaos or disorder that had been accounted for. It was most apparent in the parking lot where we waited. The lines deteriorated slightly. It was hot. People made jokes about the sun finally coming out at last after so much winter.

Fourth Tweet @ 2:56: People have started speaking old timey #haymarketreenactment

When at last, we began to walk down the street we started to march. It was an unplanned development but we stomped our feet in unison while simultanesouly thwacking our costume-issued gray, styrofoam pool-noodle clubs. I suspect a similar movement took hold of the original police;  approaching a large mass of people will always be intimidating and if you’re assuming any kind of authority you need all the help you can get. Sharing a drum beat from your feet works pretty well. We could see a massive group of people standing in the middle of Des Plaines. There was a road block. Proper police stopped traffic to let us pass and someone opened the street barrier so that we, as a group (still in lines somehow), could walk into the middle of the throng. An anarchist in a vest spoke to us through the microphone by the Haymarket cart.

What was said/The Transcript no. 1:

The POLICE march up Desplaines to the Wagon, forcing spectators and workers north. WILLIAM WARD approaches FIELDEN.

WARD: I command you, in the name of the State of Illinois, to immediately and peaceably disperse.

FIELDEN: We are peaceable.

WARD: I command you and you to assist.

EdMar made his way to the front, and waved his gloved hand in a queen’s wave. Someone threw a dusty cloth up in to the air. It was white and it burst into a small smoke. There was the sound of a bomb. This was our signal. I began my death scene. A number of cap guns went off. Photographs scrambled to take pictures. I heard others groaning.

What was said/The Transcript no. 2:

THE HISTORIAN: No more than 5 minutes elapsed between the explosion and the last gunshot. No one knows who threw the bomb. No one knows how many workers and spectators who wounded or killed. The wounded along with the wounded police, 60 or so in number, were taken back to the Desplaines Station. One officer, Mathias Degan, died instantly from his injuries; seven others died later.

Fifth Tweet @3:34: Definitely died. Feel great. Still have to pee. #haymarketreenactment


The reenactment continued in a kind of fast forward over subsequent events. Most of the police who were wounded were wounded by friendly fire. Police started to sit up or stand up in order to listen and watch the performance. A mock execution was held. We listened to their last words.

What was said/The Transcript no. 3:

The actor who plays WILLIAM WARD is now SHERRIFF MATSON. He approaches the remaining 4 men who now stand with hands clasped behind their backs. After each speaks, he puts a hood over their heads. Parsons is cut-off mid-sentence. MATSON makes a gesture with his hand and the 4 drop their heads.

SPIES: The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.

ENGEL: (in German) Hurray for anarchy. Hurray for anarchy.

FISCHER: Hurray for anarchy. This is the happiest moment of my life.

PARSONS: Will I be allowed to speak, oh men of America? Let me speak, Sheriff Matson. Let the Voice
of the People be heard! O—

MATSON and the 4 men receded into the crowd. The WORKERS hold up a sign reading June 25, 1893.

This is the way we fast forwarded through time: by signs held up with dates on them. In this way, a narrative was enacted, such that the consequences of the riot were brought to their conclusion.

What was said/The Transcript no. 4:

LUCY PARSONS (Alma Washington): My children and I were not allowed to see Albert the morning he was murdered. We were arrested outside the jailhouse. Thousands lined the streets as the bodies of the 5 men made the journey to Waldheim Cemetery. On June 25, 1893 a memorial was dedicated to them. The next day Gov. Altgeld pardoned Schwab, Fielden, and Neebe. The fight for the 8 hr. day continued. The fight for a just and better world continues.

I was not there with my husband in his final hours. I was later told that on the eve of his execution, around midnight, alone in his cell, he sang his favorite song, our favorite song, “Anna Laurie.”

Finally I got up from my death pose. We were all lead in song after that; we sang “Les Marseillaise.”

Paul Durica started making his own speech, stating in particular what became my sixth tweet.

Sixth Tweet @3:42: Paul Durica: “History is a public space. It belongs to all of us.” #haymarketreenactment


It might seem tiresome, in some way, to include those transcripts. I did so, however, to help frame the whole experience. To show how much thought and effort went into the architecture of the event. It had been in the works since November and a ton of people participated to make it happen. To me the experience created a different rubric for education. By participating in a reenactment like this, one is directly implicated in the action of history. Furthermore, at least for me, I felt pretty carefree throughout all of it. I don’t think I was taking it seriously, exactly, swept up as I was in the energy of a group. Yet suddenly, I found myself hearing the script, hearing that only one policeman died on the scene. Realizing that I probably would not have been that policeman (despite my dramatic pose). I bumped into historical accuracy in such a way that, I expect, I will always remember those dead and wounded. Furthermore, when I climbed back up from my pose on the street, I heard four speeches as bags were placed on four people’s heads. It was suddenly somber. The subsequent speakers had an earnestness about them which I’m not sure I would have appreciated had I not been so cavalier before—because suddenly everything felt real and I was overwhelmed with a tactile experience of how our lives today have been so directly impacted by this short historical blip.

 

Special thanks to Mairead Case, Michelle Faust, Nat Ward, Kenneth Morrison, Jerry Boyle, EdMar of Version Fest, Larry Spivack of the ILHS, Pete Crowley of Haymarket Pub & Brewery, and Larry Gage of the Fulton River District Association

 





Chip Kidd Speaks at Columbia College Tonight!

March 30, 2011 · Print This Article

 

Chip Kidd, one of the most rockin’ of book cover illustrators and an author himself (True Prep, The Cheese Monkeys, The Learners) will be speaking at Columbia College tonight, Wednesday, March 30 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Here’s where to show up:

Stage 2 at Columbia College Chicago 

618 S. Michigan Ave. 2nd Floor

Chicago, IL
Just look at all the a-maaaazing book covers this guy has designed. Over 1500 they say. Seriously, his shit is incredible. The Book Cover Archive, a website dedicated to, well, archiving book cover design, is pretty frakkin’ awesome too – take a moment to check it out.



Episode 263: Kehinde Wiley

September 12, 2010 · Print This Article

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263-Kehinde Wiley
This week: Duncan, Richard and guest co-host Dr. Amy Mooney, Associate Professor of Art History at Columbia College, talk with superstar artist Kehinde Wiley about his work and his exhibition “The World Stage: India-Sri Lanka” which just opened at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery (through October 23, 2010).

The following seemingly outdated bio was lifted from the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Kehinde Wiley was born in Los Angeles in 1977. He received his BFA in 1999 from the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated from Yale University School of Art two years later. Wiley is viewed as the modern-day heir to a long line of portraitists –Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Tiepolo– from whom he appropriates the symbols and visual language of heroism, power, and opulence in his realistic renderings of urban black men. While referencing specific old master paintings and fusing period elements– French Rococo ornamentation, Islamic architecture, West African textile design– into his portraits, the final works convey a very urban, contemporary aesthetic because of the subjects portrayed and their hip-hop influenced attire. Wiley succeeds in his intent to blur the boundaries between traditional and present-day modes of representation, as he says to “quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power.”




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (7/30-8/1)

July 29, 2010 · Print This Article

It’s a slim weekend, and one I’m going to miss entirely because I’m headed out to Nevada City (no, it’s not in Nevada). But if I were here, these are what I’d try and hit up. In order of appearance…

1. Religare: Artists explore the concept of Religion at Antena

And I quote, “”Religare”: according to Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell the word Religion derives from the Latin word “ligare” which means “bind, connect”, and combined with the prefix “re”= re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect”. For this art exhibit, artists will create work that analizes and critiques the concept of religion.” Works by Saul Aguirre, Eddie Alvarado, Miguel Cortez, Rakel Delgado, Rocky Horton, James Jankowiak, Antonio Martinez, Laura Olear, Josue Pellot, Polly Perez, Jenny Priego, Elvia Rodriguez-Ochoa, and Sebastian Vallejo.

Antena is located at 1765 S Laflin St. Reception is Friday, from 6-10pm.

2. Stephen Eichhorn at A+D Gallery

For the conclusion of this summer’s Digital Artist Residency Program at Columbia College, Stephen Eichorn will be presenting work in the A+D Gallery. Eichorn was the Summer Resident Artist and will be presenting collages created during his residency. A one night only event.

A+D Gallery is located in  Columbia College Chicago, 619 S. Wabash Ave. Reception is Friday from 6-9pm.

3. Sixth Annual Printers Ball

The Printers Ball is back! Presented annually by the Center for Book & Paper Arts at Columbia College, this all night Friday event is not to be missed. Make sure you check the calendar for lead up events as well. The Ball presents thousands of publications, music, readings, demonstrations, and much more.

The Printers Ball will be held at The Ludington Building at Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. The main event is Friday, from 6-11pm.

4. Double Face Fantasy at Thomas Robertello Gallery

A new installation “best viewed after dark from the sidewalk” at Robertello. Collaborators Jason Robert Bell and Marni Kotak, “[use] the application of paint to uncover flesh, the lovers find themselves quite literally emerging through the eyes of their soulmate. The messy sensuality of this play showcases their obvious pleasure, but also probes deeper issues of connection, self, and spiritual union.”

Thomas Robertello Gallery is located at 939 W. Randolph St. Show begins on Saturday night.

5. The bottom of photos that look up at the sky and other observations at Julius Cæsar

The title says a lot of it. A descriptive text based show of work by Carrie Gundersdorf.

Julius Cæsar is located at 3144 W Carroll Ave, 2G. Reception is Sunday, from 4-7pm.